Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Robert Reich: Come together right now ...

... with apologies to The Beatles. In his blog Robert Reich lists the issues on which Tea Partiers and Progressive Dems can and do agree.

I’ve just returned from three weeks in "red" America.

It was ostensibly a book tour but I wanted to talk with conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers.

I intended to put into practice what I tell my students – that the best way to learn is to talk with people who disagree you. I wanted to learn from red America, and hoped they’d also learn a bit from me (and perhaps also buy my book).

But something odd happened. It turned out that many of the conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers I met agreed with much of what I had to say, and I agreed with them.

Reich goes on to list the points of agreement. You can read the details in his blog, but here are the high points.

  • "big corporations getting sweetheart deals from the government because of lobbying and campaign contributions."
  • "any bank that’s too big to fail is too big, period" – "I got loud applause."
  • "local bankers who thought Bill Clinton should never have repealed the Glass-Steagall Act."
  • "Most of the people I met in America’s heartland want big money out of politics"
  • "A surprising number think the economic system is biased in favor of the rich. "

The more conversations I had, the more I understood the connection between their view of "crony capitalism" and their dislike of government.

They don’t oppose government per se. In fact, as the Pew Research Center has found, more Republicans favor additional spending on Social Security, Medicare, education, and infrastructure than want to cut those programs.

Rather, they see government as the vehicle for big corporations and Wall Street to exert their power in ways that hurt the little guy.

So what do we do with this? Reich concludes.

Heartland Republicans and progressive Democrats remain wide apart on social and cultural issues.

But there’s a growing overlap on economics. The populist upsurge is real.

... I do hope the economic populists in both parties come together.

That’s the only way we’re going to reform a system that’s now rigged against most of us.

Perhaps we can engage on economic issues and dodge the stickier cultural divides.

Perhaps there is an opening for us to "come together" ... "right now."

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